MORI's latest Political Monitor shows that Michael Howard, or any new Tory leader, faces a tough task if the Conservative Party are to make a significant dent in Labour's parliamentary majority.
The poll, conducted between 23-28 October, is the last survey to measure the political climate while Iain Duncan Smith was still the Conservative leader, and acts as a benchmark for the next person to lead the Party. These are the key messages:
1. Labour is still ahead
Among the 50% of those who say they are certain to vote at the next General Election, Labour retains a 3-point lead over the Conservatives (38% to 35%) with the Liberal Democrats on 21%. Note 1
Because of the way votes translate into seats under the current electoral system, MORI's projection shows that a 3-point lead would see a third term Labour government with a majority of around 113 seats in the House of Commons. Indeed, the Conservatives would need to achieve over 40% of the popular vote to come anywhere near forming the next Government.
2. Grassroots not happy with IDS
While the anecdotal evidence is that some Conservative activists are unhappy about the way in which their MPs have treated Iain Duncan Smith, MORI's latest poll shows that Tory supporters in the country Note 2 were dissatisfied with Duncan Smith's performance as Opposition leader (36% satisfied and 45% dissatisfied). Among the public as a whole, our poll finds only one in five (22%) were satisfied with IDS, compared with half who were dissatisfied (49%).
3. Opportunities for the Opposition?
The poll is not all bad news for the Conservatives. The public are also dissatisfied with the performance of the Government (25% satisfied and 64% dissatisfied) and the Prime Minister (31% satisfied and 60% dissatisfied).
And MORI's latest Delivery Index Note 3 research shows that the public remains sceptical about improvements in public services: 31% agree Government policies will improve public services in the long-term, compared with 57% who disagree. This is a very different climate to that recorded just after the election. In June 2001, 54% agreed and 32% disagreed that the government's policies will improve public services.
The challenge for the new Tory leader is to capitalise on the electorate's discontent with the present Government, and demonstrate that the Conservatives are competent and ready to lead the country. Note 4
- Based on all those asked, Labour's share is 42%, Conservatives 31%, Lib Dems 20%, Other 7%, giving a Labour lead of +11 points
- Tory supporters are defined as those who say they will vote Conservative at the next General Election
- The Ipsos MORI Government Delivery Index is a quarterly survey about long-term attitudes to the economy and public services. The latest survey was conducted 19-21 September 2003 among 961 GB adults 18+. See www.ipsos-mori.com/polls/2003/mdi-sep.shtml
- MORI's most recent poll for the Financial Times provides the latest "image profiles" for the main political parties, and paints a picture of where each currently stands in the eyes of the public. For details, please see contact Julia Clark.
MORI interviewed a representative quota sample of 2,018 adults aged 18+ at 195 sampling points across Britain. Fieldwork was conducted face-to-face on 23-28 October 2003. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population. Voting figures based on all exclude those who say they would not vote (14%), are undecided (11%) or refuse to name a party (2%).
Q1 How would you vote if there were a General Election tomorrow? IF UNDECIDED OR REFUSED AT Q1 Q2 Which party are you most inclined to support? Base: 2,018 British adults 18+
|Liberal Democrats (Lib Dem)||20|
|UK Independence Party||1|
|Lab lead (177%)||+11|
|Would not vote||14|
Q1 How would you vote if there were a General Election tomorrow? IF UNDECIDED OR REFUSED AT Q1 Q2 Which party are you most inclined to support? Base: All absolutely certain to vote (1,026)
|Liberal Democrats (Lib Dem)||21|
|UK Independence Party||1|
|Lab lead (177%)||+3|
|Would not vote||1|
Q3-6 Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way the Government / Mr Blair / Mr Duncan Smith / Mr Kennedy are doing their job? Base: 1,052 British adults 18+
Q7 What would you say is the most important issue facing Britain today? Q8 What do you see as other important issues facing Britain today? Base: 1,052 British adults 18+
|National Health Service/Hospitals||13||40|
|Crime/law & order/violence/vandalism||10||25|
|Defence/foreign affairs/international terrorism||9||21|
|Common Market/EU/Europe/Single European Currency||5||12|
|Unemployment/factory closure/lack of industry||2||7|
|Local government/council tax||*||2|
|Low pay/minimum wage/fair wages||*||2|
|Nuclear weapons/nuclear war/disarmament||*||2|
|GM/GM (Genetically Modified) foods||0||1|
|Beef/BSE/Mad Cow Disease||*||*|
|Foot and mouth outbreak/farming crisis||0||*|
|Pound/exchange rate/value of pound||0||*|
|Scottish/Welsh Assembly/Devolution Constitutional reform||0||*|
Q9 Do you think that the general economic condition of the country will improve, stay the same, or get worse over the next 12 months? Base: 1,052 British adults 18+
|Stay the same||43|
|MORI Economic Optimism Index [EOI]||-25|
Q10 And how likely would you be to vote in an immediate General Election, on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 means you would be absolutely certain to vote, and 1 means that you would be absolutely certain not to vote? Base: 2,018 British adults 18+
|10 -- absolutely certain to vote||50|
|1 -- absolutely certain not to vote||11|